Periodically I may mention my Armenian nationality, and I am excited that there is new interest in the wines of Armenia. An Armenian will tell you that it is the Cradle of Civilization, and on a more hedonistic level, the first mention of beer is by the Xerxes as he marched his soldiers from one location to another and mentioned in his memoirs of a great draught he had in Armenia. There is much bandying about as to where the wine was first made, but in Areni they have excavated what is considered the oldest winery known to man. While some of the neighboring countries are trying to make the claim, I find it odd that countries that forbid their people to drink, are trying to claim ownership of early wine production. I am not going to start a wine war, but I think you can decipher my belief on the subject.
Now, I bring all of this up, because I recently was approached by the winery, if I would try their wine a second time. Several months ago, I went to a special wine tasting event at one of the Armenian churches in the Detroit area and had a chance to try many different Armenian wines along with some great Armenian food, and the event was a fund raiser. I did not give the wine a glowing review, much to my sadness, but I feel that I must be true, in what I write. I went back and copied what I wrote, to save you the effort “The other wine that I will discuss is the Yacoubian Hobbs Areni Noir Vayots Dzor 2015 that I had actually read about and was glad to see its presence and I was looking forward to trying it. Paul Hobbs of California has been partnered with at least two wineries outside of the United States and here with the Yacoubian family. The partnership began in 2008 and a new vineyard was planted in 2014 near the Areni – 1 Cave, the site of the world’s first commercial winery. The Areni Noir grape is ancient in Armenia, but a fresh newcomer to the international wine community; it is a dark, thick skin grape that is perfectly adapted to the major temperature swings in the high elevation plateau where the grapes grow best. This wine is also from the Vayots Dzor region. The wine was fermented and aged in Stainless Steel and eleven-hundred cases were produced. As I stood in line to get a taste of the wine, the couple in front of me, took one sip, poured the balance of the wine into the spittoon, and immediately rinsed the glass with water, looked at me, and told me not to bother, but I had to try it. They were absolutely right, I could find no redeeming qualities to the wine, and I really would prefer not to say that. The entire wine was off, the nose was non-existent and the wine had nothing worth noting, I could not even find any words to describe what I was tasting.” After all of the wines and reviews I did mention that I felt that the tasting event was not well handled, the wines may have been rushed in, and in perhaps not the best manner. I also mentioned that a lot of the vineyards were young, and there is something to be said about old vines, or so many labels would not mention that fact. I also said that I would not let that one night deter me from trying more wines from Armenia.
I was amazed that I was approached by Yacoubian- Hobbs, as I was surprised that they even found my article, let alone would even offer to let me write about their wines again; I feel that reveals the integrity of the winery to look past a poor review and try again. I would say that with ten days of being contacted by Paul Hobbs of California, I was in possession of Yacoubian-Hobbs Areni Rind, Vayots Dzor 2016. Everything I have read about this new wine, is consistent with the 2015 vintage, so I am hoping the extra year for the vines and my cellaring will produce a different review. I will let the wine settle a bit in the cellar and then I will coax my Bride into making a nice Armenian dinner and will try this wine in the proper setting, and even though I seldom get samples, I treat all my wine reviews in the same vein. Actually, as I look back, there have been some wines that I have just never wrote about, since they were on my dime and not worth the dime, and this is from a man who even writes about wines that are found being used by catering companies.